Monday, January 27, 2014

The NHL Stadium Series and Marketing Quidditch

Photo by NHL
The National Hockey League has long looked for ways to appeal to a larger audience, especially in the United States. A recent survey by the Harris Poll found that only 5 percent of Americans call hockey their favorite sport. The NHL has tried many things to increase hockey's popularity in America, from expanding into the southern United States to heavily marketing young stars. Yet still, the average sports fan in the America doesn't watch much hockey. 

Then, in 2008, the Pittsburgh Penguins took the ice against the Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium--the home of the NFL's Buffalo Bills. The game, which was won by the Penguins in a shootout, set TV ratings records. Ever since 2008, there has been an outdoor NHL hockey game called the Winter Classic on New Years' Day with TV ratings reaching 8.2 million viewers this year in the United States alone. And so, the NHL has expanded the Winter Classic into an annual "Stadium Series."
Photo by NHL
On Friday, the Anaheim Ducks shutout the Los Angeles Kings beneath the lights at Dodger Stadium. Sunday afternoon, the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils squared off at Yankee Stadium. Round two at the House that Steinbrenner Built will be on Wednesday night between the Rangers and the New York Islanders before the 2014 Stadium Series concludes in Chicago (Soldier Field) and Vancouver (BC Place) in early March.
Photo by NHL
As the NHL looks to become more popular in the United States, our young sport of quidditch should just be looking for any kind of positive attention. While Yankee Stadium and Soldier Field might be just a little ambitious, there's no reason why quidditch couldn't have our own "Stadium Series." Minor league baseball stadiums could be willing to negotiate a rental price with a local community quidditch team. College teams with good support from their university could approach officials about using the football or baseball stadiums as tournament venues. The events would need aggressive promotion, with cool-looking posters scattering student centers and public places. The posters would need to convey the fact that quidditch is a legitimate sport and that there would be official games being played--not halftime entertainment aimed at making people laugh. For instance, smack a picture of Drew Wasikowski in full A&M uniform tackling a chaser from UT over the backdrop of Kyle Field. Tell me that wouldn't at least grab the attention of the 12th Man!

Alex Scheer, captain of the University of Toledo, arranged a rivalry game between his team and BGSU that was played at Toledo's football stadium, the Glass Bowl, this fall. "At UT, we are a Club Sport, so we have access to the indoor practice facility, as well as access to the stadium once the football team is done using it, and as long as another club isn't using it," Scheer said. "We have full access to the entire facility minus bathrooms and concessions, all free of charge."

In addition to a student body turnout of 50-100 people, the Glass Bowl game between Toledo and BGSU was televised by BCSN, a local sports station, and has had positive implications for Toledo in their city. "The city of Toledo knows we exist," Scheer said. "We just surpassed 500 likes on facebook, and now have a local sponsor who will be helping us with travel to World Cup."

Scheer also attempted to book Kuntz Memorial Stadium, a soccer stadium in downtown Indianapolis, for the upcoming Big Ten-MAC Quidditch Challenge. "Kuntz Stadium was willing to give me whatever I wanted...for a huge pricetag," Scheer said. "Being a professional soccer stadium, they have a great facility, with some great things to work with."

The price Kuntz Memorial Stadium wanted was $8,000 for two days of field and press box access, and the tournament will instead be played in South Bend, IN for free. 

Although an $8,000 fee is too expensive for a regular team to organize, is isn't actually a terrible deal for a world-class soccer facility and 5,000 seat stadium. Given how successful a single weeknight game at the Glass Bowl featuring undermanned teams was, imagine the publicity a major tournament would get. How much is a lot of publicity for the sport of quidditch worth? Is it worth $8,000?

To find out more I talked to IQA Marketing Director Logan Anbinder.

"I think there’s definitely a really great marketing value in hosting quidditch at a venue like a college football stadium or minor league park," Anbinder said. "As someone who was in attendance for the finals of World Cup V, which were played in Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island, I can definitely attest that the venue provides a unique atmosphere that’s really exciting and that I think does do a lot to push the sport towards mainstream legitimacy."

The cost and logistics of holding quididitch events at small stadiums definitely remain major challenges. "As far as the practical aspects of holding an event at a venue like this, I know in general that the cost of renting these types of locations is very significant," Anbinder said. "However, I could definitely see the draw of a stadium or ballpark being a component of a city bid sometime down the road. So while I wouldn’t necessarily count on it happening anytime soon, it’s neat to think about a regional championship or even the World Cup held in a stadium in the future!"

No comments:

Post a Comment